Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My 2 Cents!

Hey Everyone! It was Zoie's turn to write the long blog post, but I
decide to add my 2 cents!

1) This week is almost over! We only have a half week due to Chinese
National Day (Independence Day)
2) The Badgers are 4-0, and I couldn't be more excited. Hopefully we can get a big road win @ Minnesota this weekend!
3) Besides the Badgers being 4-0, I am also extremely excited for our trip
to Japan! If you know me well, I am most excited for the food. I am
trying to plan everyday around different meals I want in Japan.
Luckily, Zoie is on board with the idea of eating lots of food in
Japan, so that makes me very excited for our trip. I know she has been
looking forward to sushi in Japan since her parents taught her how to
use chopsticks and eat sushi when she was just weeks old.
4) I really miss everyone a lot. Although I am having a good time
here, I can't wait to return home next year to see everyone! Hopefully
though I will see some of you soon.

I hope everyone (those of you who celebrate Jewish holidays) have a
wonderful New Year! I will get back to y'all when I return from Japan!

Love to all, Daniel


Lox vs Salmon Sashimi

Hey all!

It's been a little while, so let me catch you all up! Two weekends ago (9/18 - 9/19), Daniel and I went into Hong Kong for the first time. What was the occasion? Why, the Jewish new year of course! We headed in on Friday in order to attend Rosh Hashanah services. It took about an hour by bus to get from the border crossing in Yantian to Kowloon Tong, which is a subway station in Hong Kong. From there, we took the subway to Tsim Sha Tsui, which is where we stayed, and took an additional 20-30 minutes. Including the bus from our apartment in Yantian to the border crossing, all in all, it took a little less than 2 hours to get from our apartment to our hotel. Tsim Sha Tsui is the tip of the Kowloon Peninsula and is across Victoria Harbor from Hong Kong island. After we checked in, we headed down to the synagogue, which was on Hong Kong island, and we met four of our friends there. The service was very nice, and it reminded me a lot of my synagogue at home. They even served challah, apples, honey, cookies and wine after services! After we ate some of the Jewish snacks the temple provided, we all went to a small restaurant near where services were held at a small but nice Italian restaurant. Daniel and I shared a steak and a pasta dish-- delicious!! Then we met up with one of  Mark's (one of our friends who we went to services with) friends in Lan Kwai Fong, which is in central Hong Kong. Lan Kwai Fong is a small area of Hong Kong that is just bar after bar after bar. Prices are pretty expensive-- some bars were charging prices similar to NYC prices!! Despite the prices, the area itself is pretty neat-- people just hang out in the streets while the bars play loud music.

The next morning, Daniel and I decided to head to "Main Street Deli" for a real "Jewish" lunch. Once we sat down, we got pickles and health salad! We shared a matzah ball soup- and the matzah ball was huge! Daniel got a corn beef sandwich, which came with fries, and I got lox and bagel, which came with sweet potato fries. It was delicious!! It was a great lunch to celebrate a new year!! (Check out the pictures on the right!) After we finished eating, we went to the Hong Kong art museum and walked around for a little while. We even ran into some our fellow program participants there! Then we walked to one of the HUGE  malls nearby just to look around. They sell all of the most expensive brands there... and I really mean ALL of them! Soon enough, we were tired from the big lunch and walking, so we went home.

At night, Daniel watched the Wisconsin football game (and much to his delight, they won!), and since the Michigan game aired at 3:30 AM, we DVRed it.  We watched the game together on Sunday and I was happy to find out that Michigan won!! :)

This past Sunday to Monday was Yom Kippur. Unfortunately we had to work while we were fasting, since the holiday is not quite as prevalent here in China. We had some untraditional food: for both pre-fast and break-the-fast we ordered pizza! While not quite the normal lox and bagel, mashed potatoes, brisket, etc... it was still delicious!

This Thursday is National Day here in China (like our Independence Day). This Saturday is Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the moon (this is when the moon is supposedly the brightest and biggest) and has many stories associated with it.  For us, this means a 8 day vacation from October 1-October 8! However, because we are missing so many days of work, we had to work this past Sunday and will be working on Saturday when we get back from vacation. This is just part of the culture in China; even the students had to go to class on Sunday and will have to go on Saturday when they get back.

What are we doing with our time off? Well... on Saturday and Sunday, we will be heading into Hong Kong to meet my parents!!! I'm so excited to see them!! I just realized that they will be here for Mid-Autumn festival, so it's really great that we will all get to experience a Chinese holiday together! Apparently people go up to the top of Victoria Peak and light lanterns. Parks and buildings will all be lit up with lights! Also, there is a "67-metre-long fire dragon" that winds its way through some streets in Tai Hang, which is close to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. I'm so excited!!

Then on Monday, my parents, Daniel and I will all head to the HK airport, and while my parents will be going back to the US, Daniel and I will be on our way to JAPAN!!! We are spending the first 2 nights in Tokyo, the 3rd in Hakone and the 4th in Tokyo. We are coming back on Friday, which is actually the first day back to work, but we don't have any classes on Friday, so we were able to extend our vacation! Hakone is a town about 1.5 hours from tokyo by train, and it has many mountains and hot springs. One website called it the "Yellowstone of Japan". I guess we'll see!

Anyway, I think that's enough for now! We will be sure to update the blog when we get back from our trip!


ps- Even though it's sometimes hard for me to stay awake through an entire game, I still have to give a shoutout to the 4-0 Wolverines! GO BLUE! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Banquet, Football, and I love Slingbox!

Hey Everyone! It's 3:45pm on Monday afternoon and I just finished my one class for the day. So much has happened since my last post, but I'm not going to go to into detail on that. A quick run through includes: Internet broken, good week of classes (mostly), Beach party where a ton of people stayed at our place, I never went to bed the night of the beach party because people kept calling me, Because I didn't have internet, I stayed awake and went to my office to watch the first Wisconsin game, and other than that, thats about all since last time. Of course that is not true, but Im just going to talk about recent events. First of all, the slingbox works GREAT (and is one of the focal points of this post).

Anyway, last Wednesday was National Teacher's Day in China, so our school decided on Friday night to hold a banquet for all the teachers to show their appreciation for all of their hard work (in the first 2 weeks of teaching). If you don't know anything about Chinese banquets, here is a quick summary of what they are like. Sit down, introduce to "big wigs" who are in attendance, have millions of dishes sitting on a lazy susan, and spend the rest of the night walking around toasting with everyone and drinking a ridiculous amount of wine and baijiu (look it up on wikipedia). That really is about it, but ours included something special: a performance was to follow the banquet. One day before the banquet, we were not only notified that there was a banquet to attend, but we were also notified that we had to do a performance during the party portion of the banquet. Zoie and I prepared the Cha Cha song (because it has the dance moves in the song and it would be fun to teach the teachers). That being said, we showed up at the restaurant ready to eat a meager amount of disgusting food, and drink who knows how much disgusting alcohol. As time passed, the Chinese people at our table played their favorite game "Get the Foreigner Drunk." Although they lost, and got a LOT more drunk than I did, they did succeed in making me drink that disgusting baijiu and several glasses of terrible China wine. It came time for the performance part of the show and I could see that Zoie was not too excited to do the Cha Cha dance in front of 100 teachers. Needless to say I wasn't too excited either. With that being said, I decided to take one for the team (because everyone knows I love attention and I love when Chinese people cheer for me). I decided that instead of doing our stupid Cha Cha slide, I would stand up in front of all of my fellow colleagues and sing a song in Chinese. It was a hit, and I know what youre thinking: I really hope I got that on tape! Luckily, Zoie did, and after you finish reading the blog post, please watch....Enjoy!

The next day, Zoie and I met a group of about 8 other people in the city for an all you can eat and drink Japanese tepanyaki dinner. It was wonderful. All the free sushi and hibachi beef and beer and saki and everything you can imagine that can be cooked on a stove and topped with garlic deliciousness was devoured by me that night (and 9 other American gluttons). I had to cut the night short though, because I had a date with my Slingbox and computer that night to watch college football until I fell asleep. About an hour and a half after arriving home, the Wisconsin game started. It was a tough win that Wisconsin finally pulled out around 3:45am here. Although Zoie was sleeping the whole time, I continued to yell and scream at the screen, and pace back and forth during commercials and timeouts. I even think Zoie sleepwalked in here to ask me what happened during the game when I yelled....but she doesn't remember. As my game fantastically ended in the 2nd overtime, I debated watching the Michigan-ND game which was being DVR'ed from the Slingbox. I decided to get some sleep so that Zoie and I could watch it together in the morning. I got about 6 hours of sleep, and woke up to run the my computer to watch the 2nd half of the USC-OSU game. I know I'm crazy, but college football is one of my favorite things in the world, and watching it makes me feel like I'm home! Zoie woke up quite late Sunday morning, but that didn't keep us from watching the Michigan game. I was so proud of her because I never expected her to want to watch the game in its entirety. She even got mad when I would accidentally fast fwd through a play or 2. Even though I had already seen the score, I watched the game with her anyway. It was an extremely exciting game to watch. After watching the game, we decided to head to a grocery store about 15 minutes away. We were so excited to discover that this store sold BONELESS CHICKEN and it was EDIBLE. It also has a great produce section, and a good frozen section. Finally, we can make normal dinners here! Last night we made a chicken and vegetable stir fry and it was delicious. Today I made a dumpling and Hot and Sour soup for lunch and that was delicious as well. We can't wait to make more exciting dishes. We are getting sick of the fried rice and noodle dishes we get everyday from the cheap shop nearby. After dinner last night, we hung around the apartment for a little while, watched some of "How I Met your Mother" (we have now watched all of Seasons 1-3 which is over 60 episodes) until we were getting tired. Because my sleep schedule was off, I was still wide awake. And lucky me.... the Red Sox game started at midnight here, and the Cowboys season opener started at 1am. Even though I had to wake up early, I stayed up to watch the Red Sox win game 1 of the Double header, and the Cowboys begin to dominate the Buccaneers in their season opener....Before I continue, let me recap this weekend in sports: Red Sox, 5 wins in a row! Wisconsin, double overtime victory against a good team to stay 2-0! Michigan, Big win over ND! Cowboys, Big win to start the season. This is about the happiest I can get with it comes to sports, but believe me, you will see all of these teams lose on the same day sometime, and I guarantee I will not be very happy.

This morning, Zoie and I woke up early to head over to the Kindergarten to discuss our schedule for the rest of the semester. We are both working for an hour on Wednesdays and Thursdays to make a little extra cash. Although the amount we are making is not very good, it should be a very fun experience. The kids are extremely cute, and an extra tepanyaki meal once a week cant hurt either! But I'm doing it for the kids...I promise! After the Kindergarten, Zoie and I came home to lesson plan for the rest of the week; it is very nice to only have to plan one lesson per week. It makes our easy job that much easier. We then had lunch (see above) and went to class. Zoie is on her way home from class now. I just walked back a little while ago in the POURING rain. So that brings me to now. We have plans to meet a friend about 15 min away for a surprise party, and then I want to come home and watch the new Entourage episode. That is my plan for the evening. As for the rest of the week? Chinese class starts Wednesday, as does the Kindergarten teaching. Should be a pretty decent week. I am hoping to go to HK this weekend for Rosh Hashanah, and attend a service there. Haven't figured out all the logistics yet. Anyway, my fingers are starting to hurt so I am gonna head out. I hope you all enjoyed this blog entry, and enjoy the video at the end. If you are reading this, then COMMENT. I love to hear from you. Hope all is well and talk to you soon! Miss you all!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Different Sort of First Day of School

Hey Everyone! Sorry it has been a while since I last posted a blog entry. I have been pretty busy with the start of school, so I havent had too much time! Right now I am sitting in my office at the school, waiting for my class after lunch. The students here get 2 hours for lunch, so on Thursdays, when I have a class before lunch, and 2 after, I just decide its easiest to stay here. My school schedule is pretty nice. I have 8 classes a week, and each class lasts 40 minutes. All the students in the classes are from ages 12-14, so they are at the sort of "annoying" stage of their lives. I have 1 class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have 3. So far a few of the classes have been good, but some of them have been pretty bad (naughty as the Chinese say). In addition to the classes I teach here at the Middle School, Zoie and I are thinking about taking up a few classes at the Kindergarten. They want to pay us a little extra dough to teach 3-6 year olds. They are going to be so cute, but I cant imagine babysitting. Oh well, we decided that by teaching, we could each get a free Teppanyaki All You can Eat meal every week. Those are really popular in China, and it is basically all you can eat and drink at a Japanese restaurant where they cook the food in front of you. So...Cute Chinese babies and free Japanese food? Sounds awesome to me!

Last weekend we met our friends in the city, and about 25-30 of us went to KTV (Chinese Karaoke). We had a blast, although cramming 25 people into a room is not the most comfortable of situations. Later that night Zoie and I crashed at our friends house, and woke up early to spend the day shopping for a few essentials for our apartment. We were so excited to begin our day, because a DUNKIN DONUTS just opened down the blog from our friends apartment. Of course, we get there, and the Chinese man working the door had to explain to us that Dunkin Donuts in China opens around noon..... we were not happy, but that didnt stop us from getting a donut before we headed home that day. We also took a trip to Wal-Mart. It was much needed because Zoie and I really don't have a big place in Yantian to shop. There are a few small stores/markets, but no place to really buy things we needed. Zoie bought her essential item (a hairdryer) and I bought mine (speakers so that I can watch football and basketball games on my computer throughout the year....loudly). Which reminds me....for those of you I have yet to tell, my parents hooked me up with slingbox! This basically means I now have FULL control over one of the TV's in my house. Although at first I think Zoie may have been a little upset thinking that I was going to spend all day and night watching Sportscenter and Wisconsin sporting events, she is now extremely excited because she can watch Gossip Girls, Greek, Monk, etc... We were both excited to find out that we can DVR shows as well! Needless to say, we are both extremely excited about the fact that we can keep up with American TV as well as have something that reminds us of home every now and then. Anyway, that was a little off topic....So after wal-mart, we went with our friends Greg and Maury to eat Dim Sum. Although we were a little late, we found some great cheap dishes! Following lunch, we went back to Maury's to watch Madagascar 2, which was quite a fun movie. After we finished the movie, Zoie and I decide to head back to Yantian, but not before picking up several DVD's. We found a cheap DVD store near the bus stop in Luohu, that sells 9 kuai (approx $1.25) dvd's which are actually great quality. We picked up several movies, and then headed home. Later that night Zoie cooked our second meal in the apartment. She mad a Vegetable stir fry and put that over some spaghetti. It was very good, even though we need to buy something to give it a little more flavor. Its not easy to cook here. They dont have stoves or ovens in China, so we are forced to use a hotplate to cook all of our meals. If you have any good ideas or recipes, feel free to pass them along. Its crazy what China will do to you! My favorite foods here happen to be veggies. I didn't really eat eggplant at home, and every meal I see myself ordering it. Oh about meals, I forgot to say earlier...Zoie and I had subway the other night in Luohu, and although it tastes SLIGHTLY different than America, it is still VERY good (and refreshing).

I know this may be the most boring of blog posts, but maybe some of it is interesting to some people.....or probably not. What other things have I yet to mention? OH, this weekend there is a Full Moon Party here at the beach where we live. We are very excited because we are expecting a lot of our friends and people from the program to attend (and we don't even have to take a bus!). I personally am excited for the party, but I am more excited for what is to come after.... My alarm will be set to 6:45am so I can wake up and watch the Wisconsin game at 7am here. I know I can DVR it and watch it later, but no. I want to watch it live, and for the people that are staying at our apartment, they have to suffer all morning when I play the fight song and the whole game through my new speakers! The party itself is all you can drink from 8pm-3am, so I may not get much sleep, but that will not keep me from watching Wisconsin begin its road to the national championship (wishful thinking? maybe but who cares). Other than that, thats about it. Next Monday, Zoie and I may try out one of the restaurants at a nice hotel here in Yantian, just so we can relieve ourselves of a day of Chinese food. The food here isn't bad, but eggplant, spicy greenbeans, dumplings, fried rice, and beef, get a little bleh sometimes. But I must say...with free lunches at our school, and a thing of dumplings and rice at our favorite restaurant around the corner, we can easily spend less than 3 dollars on food for one day! China is pretty awesome in that sense.

A few funny teaching stories before I end this extremely long post. 1) Some Chinese students have some pretty funny English names. Some include: Forrest Gump, Piggy, Kobe, Blue, Monkey, Bubble, Bob, No Name (yes, he said that IS his English name), Angel, Kuki (pronounced Cookie), Love Fish, Michael Jackson, Heesica?, and many more. 2) Some students are SO eager to learn,and some students could care less. But, it is so refreshing to know that even 1 kid in the class is excited about learning English. In every class thus far, I have had a least 1 student come up to me and introduce themselves to me and tell me how much they want to learn and how much they want to progress. That makes this experience worth it! 3) When I arrive in class and when I leave class, the students stand up and say "Good Morning/Afternoon Mr. Daniel" and "Goodbye Mr. Daniel" except for those little shits in class 5 (pardon my Chinese). The also salute you a lot of the time when they see you walking the halls, and when they are late to class, they stand at the door as ask for permission to enter. Its pretty need to see how disciplined they are in that regard, but I can promise you this: for those of you who thought I would not have to deal with discipline problems, you are wrong. Regardless of what you think, they are still 12-14 year olds, and they are going to act like it. Supposedly classes 5-8 are smarter and better than classes 1-4, so I am hoping that this afternoon is gonna be better (I have classes 6 and 8). We will see. Anyway, I guess I should head to class. Only 2 more today, then I am done for the week! Ill keep you updated on the rest of my week and weekend! I hope everyone is doing well, and I hope to hear back from you soon. For those of you who have emailed me, I am SO sorry I never emailed back. Now that I have a little more time to use the computer, I will be better, I promise. Talk to everyone soon! Love to all!

Mista Daniel

oh and.....Go Badgers!